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Bryonna Barton, the new director, with Marta Roberts, chil­dren’s librarian. Col­legian | Maggie Hroncich

The Hillsdale Com­munity Library will hold an open house to welcome its new director, Bryonna Barton, next Thursday Dec. 9 from 4 – 6 p.m. The event will include snacks, drinks, and a grand prize drawing for a “Welcome to Hillsdale” gift basket, along with  drawings for other gift cards to local businesses. 

The Library Board will meet imme­di­ately fol­lowing the event, and the meeting is open to the public.

Barton, a Lansing native, started her new role on Nov. 22, but has worked in various libraries since the age of 16. Barton said she already feels wel­comed by the library staff and the greater Hillsdale community.

“The staff is awesome. They’re very friendly,” she said. “The com­mu­nity’s really wel­coming. It’s been a fun, easy transition.” 

Barton said she is looking forward to the open house event, which will offer refresh­ments and gift drawings, along with cal­endars and fliers intro­ducing library staff. 

“We’ll have a ‘Meet the Librarians’ newsletter so everyone can get to know us better with more back­ground,” Barton said. “And we’ll poten­tially have one to meet the library board as well, because we do have spots to fill on our board.”

Marta Roberts, a Hillsdale native who started as the new children’s librarian in August, said she has also had a good tran­sition to the library. 

“This is my first time working in a library, but I’ve always loved kids. I used to be a nanny for three or four fam­ilies and loved that,” Roberts said. “I started the arts and crafts club, which is a lot of fun and kids like it. So we’re trying to get more crafty and hands-on pro­grams now.”

Roberts said she hopes to see an uptick in children and teenagers vis­iting the library as new pro­grams begin. 

“The adult numbers are pretty steady, but we don’t see a whole lot of pre-teens and teens right now,” Roberts said. “There were quite a few kids who used to come after school to hang out and that’s not hap­pening as much.” 

According to Roberts, the Lego club is the main area she’s seen an increase in atten­dance in recent months.

“For the Lego Club, which is the first Tuesday of the month, there’s been a lot more kids. I think we had seven the first club and then the last club we had almost 20 kids come. So it’s been a good influx.”

Barton hopes to increase engagement for all ages by increasing awareness about all the pro­grams the library offers, she said.

“Libraries are more than just books and reading pro­grams. We have resources to help with schoolwork, but we also have pro­grams that are not nec­es­sarily edu­cation based or school ori­ented or reading ori­ented,” Barton said. 

While still holding edu­ca­tional events, a goal for upcoming months is to create a space where people can come in to catch a break from the stress of school or work, according to Barton.

“My hope moving forward is we implement more non-school ori­ented events where kids can come in, destress, have fun, and kind of forget the workload for a little bit.”